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Structural Geology and Geomechanics: New Frontiers for Basin Modelling

Jean-Marc Daniel
IFPEN, Rueil-Malmaison, France

The increasing complexity of new prospects (subsalt, deeply buried reservoirs, unconventional etc.) challenges basin models capabilities. These prospects are characterized by complex 3D kinematics and a stress evolution that has a big impact on seal integrity and reservoir petrophysics. In this context, evaluating the thickness of hydrocarbon columns is a task that could certainly benefit from collaboration between structural geology and geomechanics.

Structural geology aims at understanding the mechanisms that control the development of tectonic structures. In the oil and gas industry, this mainly means dating these structures, defining their structural style and building 2D and 3D geometric models. On its side, geomechanics is mainly confined in our industry to the simulation and control of anthropogenic stimulation of reservoirs and their overburden by production or drilling activities. Therefore, it generally simulates small poro-elastic deformations of structures mechanically characterized by triaxial tests on plugs. Addressing different questions, these two disciplines therefore tend to work separately. However, when confronted to basin modelling challenges, more interaction is required.

This keynote will illustrate specific topics where interaction between structural geology and geomechanics could lead to innovative achievements that would significantly broaden the scope of basin modelling. A particular attention will be laid on the control of basin model boundary conditions by geodynamic models, the definition of mechanical properties at basin scale and the improvement of seal integrity prediction. However in order to be on time to the rendezvous, both structural geology and geomechanics must target new frontiers. A review of these new frontiers will be proposed to open discussion.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #120098©2013 AAPG Hedberg Conference Petroleum Systems: Modeling the Past, Planning the Future, Nice, France, October 1-5, 2012